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Prenty explains final venue decision

Sport

John Prenty, Secretary of the Connacht GAA Council.
INTERVIEW  John Prenty, Secretary of the Connacht GAA Council.Pic: Sportsfile

Connacht Council delegates agreed on Hyde Park


Mike Finnerty

THE decision to fix next month’s Connacht SFC Final for Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon was agreed by representatives of all counties in the province, according to Connacht GAA Council Secretary John Prenty.
The decision to play the game between Mayo and Sligo in Roscommon on Sunday, July 19 was announced yesterday evening (Tuesday) following a meeting of the Connacht GAA Council Competitions Control Committee in Bekan.
Speaking to Mid West Radio this morning (Wednesday), John Prenty confirmed that Connacht Council CCC delegates from Mayo (Paddy McNicholas), Sligo (Richard Brennan), Leitrim (Gerry McGowan), Roscommon (John Corcoran) and Galway (John Joe Holleran) had ‘agreed’ on the decision to play the match in Hyde Park.
“We don’t impose anything on anybody,” said Prenty, who added that he doesn’t expect more than 22,000 people to attend the novel provincial decider.
The Ballyhaunis native also outlined the main factors behind the decision to select the Roscommon venue to host its first Connacht Senior Football Final since 2012:
“We had a notional capacity for a Connacht Final of 25,000 but that really is only when Galway or Mayo or Roscommon playing each other in a Connacht Final. [For] Connacht Finals involving Sligo or Leitrim, our attendance is usually way down on that.
“We examined our Event Management Plan and we feel that we can take our attendance [in Hyde Park] to around 22,000 for the next game.
“We examined the attendances of Mayo and Sligo in this year’s championship,” he continued.
“Mayo had just over 11,000 people who attended Pearse Stadium [for the semi-final]. . Sligo had about 3,000 people that attended [their semi-final] in Markievicz Park last week. .
“Normally a minor match [final] will take around 4,000 people altogether so, we’re satisfied, on that basis, that the capacity of Hyde Park won’t be taxed on this occasion.
“The distance from the competing counties to Pearse Stadium would be a major difficulty for a lot of people,” he added. “Plus, the fact that 90% of them would have to go through Tuam to get to Galway, and be travelling in the same direction.
“The Galway Arts Festival is also on in Galway that weekend and the last day of the skywhale [an outdoor artwork that measures 100 feet long and 70 feet tall] is on that day.
“We spoke to some of the people organising it and they’re expecting a huge crowd in Galway on the Sunday because of that. So all those issues were taken into account.”
In the wake of the 2012 Connacht Final between Mayo and Sligo, Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon had its capacity reduced by a GAA health and safety audit — the Slattery Report — to 18,750, ruling it out of consideration for provincial deciders in each of the last two seasons.
However, John Prenty explained this morning that a Mayo v Sligo pairing in the final can be accommodated, providing the Connacht GAA Council ‘update’ their Event Management Plan and strict measures are put in place with regards to fans entering and exiting the stadium.
“Since that Slattery Report was issued in 2012, Roscommon have spent over €110,000 on safety issues alone so we have to give Roscommon County Board some credit for that,” he said.
“The Slattery Report says that fixtures with an expected capacity of more than 25,000 shouldn’t be held in Hyde Park.
“We can accommodate 23,470 people safely, according to the Slattery Report, providing we put a proper Event Management Plan in place and ensure that the people in the stand and sideline side of the ground enter via the Golf Links Road.
“All patrons with a ticket for the stand or the sideline will have to enter from the rear of the stand.”
Prenty also confirmed that tickets for the match will be going on sale after July 4 (when the identity of the Connacht Minor Finalists will be known) and admission prices will be decided at a provincial council meeting next Tuesday.
He also stated that Cairde Maigheo members and Mayo GAA Season Ticket holders would be “guaranteed a ticket to the game, but not guaranteed a ticket to the stand.”